Saturday, April 7, 2012

Bryans give U.S. 2-1 lead over France

   Bob and Mike Bryan came through again for the United States.
   The top-ranked twins defeated Julien Benneteau and Michael Llodra of France 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (4) Saturday on clay in Roquebrune Cap Martin, France, to give the United States a 2-1 lead in the Davis Cup quarterfinals.
   The United States can beat France away for only the second time by winning one of Sunday's two singles matches, far from certain. Eleventh-ranked John Isner will face No. 6 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, followed by No. 66 Ryan Harrison vs. No. 13 Gilles Simon. Tennis Channel will televise the matches live beginning at 2 a.m. PDT and again at 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.
   Harrison, 19 years old, and Simon, 27, are replacing No. 9 Mardy Fish (fatigue) and No. 14 Gael Monfils (abdominal injury), respectively, in the quarterfinals. 
   The 33-year-old Bryans, perhaps the greatest men's doubles team ever with 11 Grand Slam titles, faced no break points as they improved to 19-2 in Davis Cup doubles. One of the losses came to Arnaud Clement and Llodra, a three-time Grand Slam champion in men's doubles, in the 2008 Davis Cup quarterfinals in Winston-Salem, N.C. Benneteau, 30, has reached the doubles quarterfinals or semifinals in every Grand Slam tournament.
   “We came in today and played a really solid match, especially on our serve,” Mike Bryan, who starred with Bob at Stanford in the late 1990s, told reporters. “Not being down a break point on serve especially against a great team on dirt is a great stat with us. It wasn’t flashy; we just played our workmanlike doubles today.”
   The Bryans also improved to 10-0 away.
   “We’ve played every away tie on dirt and we’re comfortable on clay,” Mike said. “It’s a little easier to focus sometimes when you’re on the road. You kind of just go into a zone and block out the crowd, pull our hats down and focus on our tennis.”
   The 6-foot-10 Isner is 1-1 against Tsonga, with both matches going to 7-6 in the third set on hardcourt. Harrison and Simon met for the first time last month at Indian Wells, with Simon winning 7-6 (0), 5-7, 6-1 on hardcourt.
   “The way that John played (Friday) will give him confidence and give the team confidence,” U.S. captain Jim Courier said of Isner's straight-set victory over Simon that pulled the Americans into a 1-1 tie. “He’s going to have to come out at that level to beat Jo as Jo’s a fantastic player and he’ll be inspired. We’re looking forward to the battle, and we’ll be ready to play both matches tomorrow.”
   French captain Guy Forget remains optimistic.
   “I think so far the best players won, and that’s a fact,” he said. “I hope it will stay that way, and if it does, we will win the last two singles tomorrow, and that’s what I’m hoping.”
   Capital's Dutch treat -- Jean-Julien Rojer of the Sacramento Capitals in World TeamTennis and Igor Sijsling gave the host Netherlands an insurmountable 3-0 lead over Romania in Group I with a thrilling doubles victory.
   Rojer, from the Netherlands Antilles in the Caribbean Sea, and Sijsling edged Andrei Daescu and Florin Mergea 6-3, 7-6 (3), 6-7 (3), 3-6, 9-7 in 4 hours, 31 minutes in Amsterdam.
   Romania's Horia Tecau, the Wimbledon runner-up in men's doubles for the past two years with Robert Lindstedt of Sweden, skipped the match because of a player boycott after the firing of captain Andrei Pavel.
   The Netherlands will play Sept. 14-16 against a team to be determined for a berth in the 2013 World  Group, the top level of the Davis Cup. The WTT playoffs are scheduled for the same weekend in Charleston, S.C., so if the Capitals qualify, they likely will have to replace Rojer, ranked 38th in the world in men's doubles. Rojer is scheduled to play singles and men's doubles for the Capitals this season.
   Colleges -- The No. 6 Stanford women (15-0, 6-0 Pacific-12 Conference) earned their seventh consecutive shutout, 7-0 over visiting Santa Clara (8-8, 2-2 West Coast Conference). Third-ranked Nicole Gibbs defeated No. 38 Katie Le 6-2, 6-4 at No. 1 singles.
   Also notching 7-0 victories at home were the No. 11 Stanford men and No. 12 Cal men. The Cardinal (14-5, 4-0 Pac-12) blanked  No. 22 Washington (12-7, 0-4), and the Bears (11-7, 4-0) pounded No. 62 Oregon (15-5, 0-4).
   The Sacramento State men (7-10, 5-0) extended their Big Sky Conference winning streak to 24 matches dating to 2010 with a 6-1 triumph at Montana State (6-10, 2-3).
   The UC Davis men (3-13) lost 6-1 at No. 29 Fresno State (15-3) in a nonconference match.

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